Thursday, March 31, 2011

Quick Decision Needed

This has been a social week with dinners and lunches out with friends and family. Since D and I started getting larger "allowances", these fun indulgences don't end up on the Visa statement.

With the small "c" chaos that is my office location these days, I am questioning whether I ought to postpone my next trip which is scheduled 3 1/2 weeks.

Part of me feels I need to be here so spread a calming influence and to maintain momentum. The other part says change is a normal part of life and nothing is going to implode, explode while I'm gone (hopefully).

Hearing about other friends' trips gets me all wanting to participate. A compromise would be to still take part of the time off and work the other part but hang out at the cottage.

I don't have a whole lot of time to decide. There will be a penalty for cancelling flights and hotels. And I will need to start booking in that time frame if I will be around.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Rome Revisited

We were only in Rome for 3 nights. Once I got off the train at Termini, it was like home again except for some new stores and eating establishments replacing ones I had frequented. Didn't get us lost finding our hotel.

Outside of the hustle bustle of the train station, the energy of Rome seemed dampened to me. The expressions of peoples' faces were more strained than I remembered 4 years ago. A lot has happened in the world and it was apparent this city was affected.

The numbers of people peddling stuff had increased exponentially. That day, it was umbrellas. You could barely walk 5 - 10 minutes at a time without having one pointed out in your way. Pretty irritating.

Our hotel was just outside of the city walls in a residential area. I stayed there 8 yrs ago when I spent 2 1/2 weeks over Christmas and New years. It was much cheaper then and the only place I could afford back in the day.

Not much has changed except now you get wifi and breakfast service is much more organized. I enjoyed returning there and showing D what I remembered of the neighbourhood.

We didn't do many "sights" this time around as we have seen most already. Just walked and wandered through the various areas following our nose. Rome is a great city for that and has a gritty "we make no excuses, we are what we are" vibe.

We drank lots of fantastic coffee and discovered a few great bakeries, memorable meals and an area of town we would consider staying next time around.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Not Logical

I rebalanced my spreadsheet after having discovered a small over savings amount we were able to allocate towards the mortgage. This will allow a more leisurely pre-payment pace for the rest of this year and into the beginnings of next year as we are only allowed to do so much yearly.

Emotionally, being ahead has bought me some more breathing room. I hate feeling like I'm being cornered, especially with debt. Even though we are in a fairly good position financially, I cannot help feeling desperate at times, as if I had no money. I must suffer from the "bag lady syndrome" to some extent. It's not logical.

Monday, March 28, 2011

New Phone!

A couple (few?) years ago, when D started working from home we noticed our cordless phone was interfering with our wireless router. Not great from a work productivity viewpoint.

It was at the time when Dect 6.0 phones were just coming out -- Translation "pricey" and not much choice. We bought the first 2 handset unit we found at Costco and I have disliked them ever since.

Remember how I bought the sub standard "great deal" patio set last summer just to end up returning it to buy the known to be good set from Hauser? Well this phone scenario is the same. I ought to have listened to my gut and bought Panasonic instead of Uniden.

Well, this weekend, I did. I had enough of the beeping messages of me being "out or range" when I hadn't moved an inch and the 1 hr battery life after 24 hrs of charging. A new phone wasn't in the weekly budget but saving 50% and getting a $10 gift card was incentive enough. I'll make it work.

Saturday, March 26, 2011


Be careful what you wish for, right?

One thing on my list of "fun jobs to have" is to be a receptionist. Others on the list include filing books at the library, floral assistant.

A light bulb went on in my head this morning. I am a part time receptionist right now and have been one for my colleague too until recently.

Well, as you know, it hasn't been all that. I continue to enjoy doing it for myself but I will be more cautious before choosing my next assignment.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Busy Times

I'm entering a busy work cycle. Sometimes it just means busy and doesn't translate into actually income, rather an investment towards future income. In an ideal situation I am doing a bit of both. Hope that ends up being the case.

In an advice article I read somewhere, an author recommended to employees who get a fixed number of holidays a year to plan ahead and make sure to take all of them.

As the author is self employed, she couldn't understand why so many people have time left over as she struggles with taking enough time off.

I must say, I can relate to her views. Why wouldn't someone take their yearly allotted time?

Compared to my colleagues, I take the most time off each year. With any luck and perseverance, I will continue to do so until I cannot physically go or decide to put my attention elsewhere. Gosh. I could go somewhere once a month if I could.

On a lucky note, the landlord of my office building is reducing all of our rents significantly for the duration of time this zoning/renovation to code will take. That's awfully nice of him and we all appreciate it very much.

Cash flow is going to be tighter this next 6 months as I am saving towards some rather large continuing education courses. It is time and I'm not keen about it even though it is a really smart career move.

There are potentially 5 sections with each session costing $3000 and I have get myself there, stay and eat. The first one can start as early as July.

All I can think of right now is where in the world I could go with all that money and I've gone this long without it...I have to literally lock this money into some account so I cannot get my travel fingers on it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Won't Miss This

My colleague and I have enacted a new change in our working relationship. He is now going to be responsible for his own bookings and will we getting their own business line.

Part of his rent he pays has included a fee for my administrative services as he wanted to use the same business line as me.

Yes, it is nice to have extra income but and it is a big BUT, the headaches that come with it makes it hard to justify.

I do believe we tend to attract people/friends/clients who are similar to us. As I am a control freak, my clients are mostly ones who book ahead, who aren't fond of surprises, who will give me plenty of notice if they need to make a change. Simply put, people who are respectful of my time.

He, on the other hand, is a last minute kind of soul and doesn't mind constant change so I get to talk to people who are indecisive, who have all type of drama crop up last minute, who forget where we are or which days we work...

No, I cannot say I'll miss the extra headaches or money. Since he is planning to move onto other businesses as soon as possible, I have long since taken his rental contribution out of my working spreadsheet and input pure rental income into my books on a month to month basis. It's just easier that way.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yeah Friday!

Do you know when you feel like all you want to do is to sit down and not move so that the dust can settle around you?

That's how I've felt since yesterday afternoon. Can't say it was because it was especially busy because it wasn't. Can't really say why so I chalk it up to the cumulative effects of the week.

The car salesmen have been bugging me with their calls and re-calls. The one I don't mind but the other I had specifically told him I do not wish to be called and he calls anyways.

That is the best way to lose my business. And with everything else that is going on right now, the last thing I care about is test driving cars.

Maybe it is just me but I hate hearing the phone ring. I'm not a phone person and you'll never find me walking around talking on my cell phone or texting while in a shopping mall. Guess I'm too old to understand that.

D and I are looking forward to a quiet weekend together. With his guy's ski trip and our recent trip, he hasn't really been home for a few weeks and misses it.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

No New News Yet

Clear signs of Spring are upon us. I'm awaiting the last snow removal bill from our contractor. I believe he has gone south to celebrate the end of his very busy seasonal work cycle. Can't say I blame him. We had a tougher winter than usual.

I haven't had my meeting with the landlord yet. It is scheduled for next week. Our business community is pretty small and no new news stays hidden for long.

I've since learned that our municipality is one of the few that still has sub categories for businesses so you can be zoned legal for one type of business but if a different business moves in, they may have to apply for a zoning change, even though the building is zoned for commercial use.

There is no guarantee you'll get it. And it can take months. And a lot of money -- Not something I'd have to worry about as it isn't my building.

How it would affect all of us is the process as it is a public one and there will likely be meetings at city hall, maybe even petitions. Don't know if I care to be involved in all of that.

I seem to be taking all of this much better than I would have thought (No, it doesn't have anything to do with all those "coffee shops" is AMS!). Having gone through the stress of last year's big work blow up, this doesn't compare in scope or scale. The worst case scenario is we look for a new space.

I'm not as concerned because I now know my business is sound. I didn't know/wasn't willing to believe it last year until it was proven to me to be true. We are almost 9 months now and the time mostly has flown.

As the business is designed to be easily portable, a move really does means just a move. Everything else stays the same, thanks to technology. I just know to dig a lot deeper with respect to zoning before I commit to my next spot.

Happy St Paddy's Day!!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Catch Up Day

Most of us have probably seen the unreal footage of the Tsunami being circulated via YouTube or Facebook. Holy power of water! How worlds can change in 6 minutes. If you haven't done so, please consider a donation to the Red Cross.

Today is mostly an administrative catch up day. It is incredible just how much mail we get. I have a pile just under a foot high to sift through. A number of them are our updated credit cards (finally) as we are nearing expiry.

On a travel related note, in Terminal 3 at Pearson International Airport (Toronto), they have recently opened a Nexus x-ray screening line. We didn't know about that as we thought the quick through passport control uses iris scan technology.

So we were in line with everyone else waiting for our turn to take off jackets, take out liquids etc.

I decided to ask someone about it as we happened to have our nexus cards with us. They said it started 3 days ago and we can go through that line after scanning our cards with a handheld device. We got through in less than 1 minute. Wow. The cards paid for themselves right there and then.

On the way home, because 4 flights arrived at the same time, passport control was a mess. I have never seen it so busy.

Because we hadn't had our irises "captured" yet, we had to go to the special services line. Unfortunately the fellow who directed us there didn't really know what he was talking about because the agents at passport control do not have the machines do that.

But we happened upon an agent who used to work at the Nexus office at Pearson who told us what we needed to do, where to go for our appointments, that they were not open right now, etc.

Once done, we would be able to use one of those nifty machines we saw and would be passing through passport control in Canada in a jiffy.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Some Drama, Some Fun

Came home to some work drama. I have yet to get all the facts via an official meeting but the gist of it is this -- My office location has received a complaint by an anonymous person (who according to our locality never has to reveal themselves) that the zoning is not accurate for the types of business operating under its roof. There are 3 separate businesses here.

According to the landlord, it is, so creates the drama with the city planning department to make the final call. There are rumours that the call was malicious in nature against the landlord.

Regardless, it is a headache for us and it could mean another move. We are being proactive and am currently looking for alternate locations just in case.

As my colleague is thinking of phasing out their business eventually, I will need to make sure any future space will be suitable for myself in the long term.

Onto more fun ideas, we finalized our fall trip while in Amsterdam. We will be returning to France again and since discovering the cheaper multi stop flights, we will stop in Paris first before going onto Nice. We have rented the same apartment we had 4 yrs ago, overlooking the Port, our favourite location to stay.

I'll post some photos of our recent getaway once they are all downloaded and sorted.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Hello From AMS

So what did I expect?

I slept a measly 1 hr my last night in Rome and was subsequently sneezed on constantly during the train ride into Amsterdam from the airport and presto, I am currently battling it out with a head cold.

At least my view is good. The picture above is the view from the bedroom window of the houseboat we have rented for the week as I am sipping hot fluids in bed.

I'll post a full trip report once we return home but so far, we are really liking it here.

Friday, March 4, 2011


The furnace decided to act up. Namely in the form of not working when the thermostat says it is on.

D went down to the basement and flicked the breaker switch on and off and presto, it is working. It's never good timing, especially when the furnace is 3 yrs old.

I left instructions for our cat sitter just in case it decides to pull another stunt like that again. Hopefully it was just one of those hiccup things.

Tonight we'll be leaving for our next jaunt. Back in a week or so. Have a great week everyone!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

First Homes

I saw a great scene from my kitchen window the other day of the 2 houses we face. Both homes house young people who are just starting out on their lives. One couple just moved in and have no kids and the other couple just celebrated their first child's 1st birthday and mom has gone back to work after a year of maternity leave.

Our home is considered a sought after area (if you like old houses) due to the grand old homes, large ravine lots and mature trees. The big hold homes are built on land that are 3 - 5 acres in size vs the smaller homes on the side boulevards with the 24 - 30 ft frontage. So there is quite a difference. The closer homes are to the larger ones, the higher the price. These 2 couples moved in a few months of each other into their first homes that mirror each other in shape.

The scene I saw which put a smile on my face was of one husband coming home from work in the morning having worked nights as a plant electrician carrying his tool box and drop sheet up his front porch steps while at the same time, the new mom is walking down her steps with her ID card around her neck, going to work. Both contributing daily steps towards building their dream life.

Both people peacefully going about their business, oblivious to each other and me, who happened to have walked by my window at the same. I couldn't help thinking of how the cycle of life just keeps clipping along no matter what might be the current issue in my head. It was such an innocent scene to witness. And a reminder of how proud I was of my first home and how proud I was to come home to My Home.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Bank Options

As part of my due diligence, I called my banker to find out what he can offer as a line of credit rate should I wish to self finance my next car.

There wasn't any great deals as far as I'm concerned -- prime + 1%. But here's what did surprise me.

Lines of credits that are part of the equity of your house now will balloon to the available credit ie. will increase as you pay your house off, without having to apply for an increase... sounds dangerous, doesn't it?

To me it does. I find spending large sums of money really easy. Seeing I have equity available and having access to it are 2 very different things.

I can see just how easy it can be to say "yes" especially when they will only need 5 mins of my time to sign and go over paperwork.

So what I decided to do is to limit my expenditures to my unsecured lines of credits. That way, there is a ceiling on the amount.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

More Car Stuff

I've decided to donate my vehicle to Teen Challenge Farm when the time comes. The thought of trying to sell my car privately doesn't appeal to me.

The only dealer who wants will take it on a trade in is another Honda dealership. D got $2500 as a trade for his '97 CRV with 314K. I would get a little more as mine is in better condition. But, I'm not looking for another Honda right now.

The reason being, I have this weird belief that Japanese cars built outside of Japan have more problems. Because I believe this, I look for the VIN to begin with a J.

There aren't too many Japanese vehicles we can buy that are built in Japan anymore. As vehicles get more popular, North American plants pop up to start building them, thus often lowering the cost.

People we know who own such vehicles have had more issues with their cars (old and new) then I have had with mine. So I'm a bit paranoid now.

D's Outback was put together in Indiana. Whereas all Foresters, WRXs and STIs are still made in Japan. I guess we'll wait and see with this one.

D's Civic (built in Canada) we had for barely a year had more issues than my car has had in 14 yrs and it was an 2005.

So now I'm looking to Germany for some inspiration. The reliability ratings can be mixed depending on the brand. I'm afraid it may come down to deciding on whether I wish to have a nice looking car that needs care or a spartan one.